NCA Inside & Out

NCA Member News

NCA Member News

September 11, 2015


Phil Backlund, Central Washington University (CWU), has been named CWU’s 2014-2015 Distinguished Professor of Teaching, the highest recognition a faculty member can receive..

Jennifer L. Bevan, Chapman University, has received the university’s 2015 Valerie Scudder Award. This award, which honors up to four faculty members each year, is the university's highest "all-around" award that recognizes faculty teaching, service, and research.

Sarah E. Riforgiate, Kansas State University (KSU), has been named a KSU 2015 Presidential Excellence Professor for Undergraduate Teaching. This award is given to three faculty members and one graduate student annually across the university in recognition of their outstanding contributions to undergraduate teaching.

In Memoriam

Dr. Owen Kulemeka, Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma (OU), died in his Norman, Oklahoma home at the age of 38 on June 27 after being treated for heat stroke earlier in the week.

Dr. Kulemeka was born April 13, 1977, in Malosa, Malawi. He immigrated to the United States in 1989 to join his father, who was a doctoral student at Indiana University in Bloomington. Owen received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Maryland at College Park, and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. While a student, he interned at a variety of non-governmental organizations including UNICEF Indonesia, Amnesty International, and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Before pursuing his doctorate, he had worked in Washington, DC, as a Research Analyst for Kearney and Company, a Public Affairs Writer for the American Insurance Association, and a Research Analyst for Cassidy Government Relations, a subsidiary of Weber Shandwick Government Relations.

Dr. Kulemeka’s academic specialty was Public Relations and Crisis Communication, and he published his research in a variety of journals. During his first years at OU, Dr. Owen established himself as a respected and well-liked professor. In his first year, he won Gaylord College’s JayMac Outstanding Teacher award, distinguishing himself as the only new professor to have ever been selected for the college’s highest teaching honor. The following year, the Oklahoma Student-Athlete Advisory Committee selected Dr. Kulemeka for the Most Inspiring Faculty award. In 2015, he was selected as one of four inaugural Paul Risser Innovative Teaching Fellows, a program designed to help a select group of outstanding teachers on campus develop an innovative course.

In 2009, he was selected as the first recipient of the James & Larissa Grunig Research Fellowship, given by the Institute for Public Relations. The fellowship provided him an opportunity to lecture and do research around the world. Dr. Kulemeka was active in international communication and had worked most recently with the University of Gujrat in Pakistan as part of a grant from the U.S. Department of State to upgrade the Mass Communication department at that university.

Dr. Kulemeka is survived by his parents, Drs. Andrew Kulemeka and Mary Ellen Scullen and two sisters, Moyenda and Chikondi, all of College Park, Maryland, and by numerous relatives in the United States and Malawi. He also considered his university students and colleagues as his extended family.

In the Media

William Benoit, Ohio University, was quoted in a article about the importance of primary debates. 

William Cowen, Villanova University, was quoted in a article about the influence of social media on public relations efforts. 

Bonnie Dow, Vanderbilt University, was quoted in a New York Times article about the influence comedian/actress Amy Schumer has on sexist norms and stereotypes.

Matthew Grizzard, University of Buffalo, was featured in a Yahoo! News article for his research about violent video games and aggression.

Jeffrey Hall, University of Kansas, was featured in an Inside Higher Ed article about how people perceive flirtatious behavior.

Cynthia Hoffner, Georgia State University, was featured in a Boston Globe article for her research on how college students cope with being separated from their smart phones.

Kathleen Jamieson, University of Pennsylvania, was quoted in a Bloomberg article about whether candidates may ignore debate rules created by the Democratic National Committee.

Marina Krcmar, Wake Forest University, was featured in a Saturday Evening Post article about why people make a conscious effort to turn off the TV.

Yuhua (Jake) Liang, Chapman University, was featured in an Inside Higher Ed article about his research on professor interaction on

David Perlmutter, Texas Tech University, wrote a Chronicle of Higher Education article about how one’s dissertation can be used to help secure employment. 

Mike Smith, La Salle University, was quoted in a Christian Science Monitor article about how community partnerships are improving parts of Compton.

Shyam Sundar, Penn State University, was featured in an Epoch Times article for research about the success of location-based ads on mobile devices.

In Transition

Phil Backlund has retired from full-time teaching at Central Washington University after 36 years at that institution and after a 43-year career in higher education.

Jennifer L. Bevan has been promoted to Full Professor at Chapman University.

Edward L. Fink has been appointed Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland. He has also been appointed Professor in the Department of Strategic Communication in the School of Media and Communication at Temple University.

Michael R. Kramer has been promoted to Professor at Saint Mary's College.

Of Interest

Dietram A. Scheufele has joined the Annenberg Public Policy Center as a Visiting Scholar for the fall 2015 semester. Scheufele, who will lead the center’s research in science communication during the fall, is the John E. Ross Professor in Science Communication and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in the Morgridge Institute for Research.